Thoughts about my lovely sister-in-law:
Mary was my sister-in-law. I first met Mary back in the 1980s. She made me feel right at home with the Kiska family from very first minute I met her. At that time, I was a smoker, and while I don’t remember the exact words Mary said when I first met her, they were something like ”Oh good, you’re a smoker. Here, have a glass of wine! He’s a keeper, Juice”. And we both burst out laughing.
From then on, there were loads of things to love about Mary. Like how much she loved her daughter Julia; how deeply she cared for Nan, and John, and my wife, Julie; the way she snorted when she really got laughing hard; the way she absolutely loved a celebration or party; the way she decorated her house for almost every holiday imaginable; the way she decorated our house whether we wanted to or not; how she loved candles, and soap, and knick-knacks; and just how much she enjoyed life. There are so many things that come to mind when I think of my sister-in-law, but here are just two things that made her very special to me:
1/ Mary was one of the most generous people I have ever known. She loved to give. It didn’t matter how big or small. It was the sheer joy of giving that gave Mary so much pleasure. You could see it in her eyes and her smile, and you could hear it in her laughter. She was one of the most kind and generous people that I have ever known. And she had a fantastic sense of humour. For many years now, we have always held Christmas Eve at our house. One year, after it took us about eight hours to open presents, the family talked briefly about not giving each other Christmas gifts anymore. Mary was mortified. “Well, we still have to give the kiddie’s gifts. It just wouldn’t be right” she said. “And it’s always nice to have a little something for the adults” she said. So after some discussion, it was decided that we would give each ‘modest’ Christmas loot bags. Mary, of course, filled shopping bags full of goodies for everyone. She simply loved to watch everyone’s reaction when they opened their gifts. I remember one year, one of things she gave me was a “penis and testicles” sock warmer. As I was opening the gift, Mary started laughing. When I finally unwrapped the thing, it was about 15” long. And as I was holding it up, trying to figure out what the hell it was, Mary said “Do you think it’ll fit?” and started ‘snorting with laughter’, tears pouring down her cheeks. Christmas will never be the same without her.
2/ Mary made people feel special. Julie and I have hosted many family functions over the years. And Nan, John, and Mary have always been great with our kids. But, in particular, I used to love seeing what Mary would pull out of her pocket or purse after she had arrived. One time it would be candy or gum, or stick-on-nails for Em, or ‘crazy bones’ for Dave. After one visit, the kids looked like smarties because they were covered from head-to-toe in water-soluble tattoos. In fact, it was Mary who bought our daughter her first real tattoo when she turned 18. On one of these occasions, I cooked roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for dinner because I knew that Mary and Nan both ‘liked their beef’. Between the two of them, they probably pounded back half the roast. And with every mouthful, Mary raved about it. “Oh. my. God. This is so good!” she said over and over. It really wasn’t that good. I mean, it was okay, but Mary made me feel like Gordon Ramsey that day. Like I say, Mary just had a way of making everybody feel special. But the truth of the matter is that she was the one that was so special.
Words cannot express how much I am going to miss her.
Doug Talbott (Julie Kiska’s husband)